Emerson Quartet, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

The programme could not have been more felicitously constructed: three Central European string quartets, composed during a two-year period in the Twenties when Modernism had just found its voice.

Blasphemy, By Sherman Alexie. Grove Press, £14.99

Sherman Alexie has beaten the odds. First, he wasn't expected to live, having been born with hydrocephalus, which is fatal if not treated. Secondly, not many Native Americans rise above the narrow confines set by white society – and, as Alexie illustrates, some of their own community – to reach literary success. Alexie has done so, with many national awards.

A taste of India: Learning to cook in Kerala

Hanging upside-down off the back of a wildly bobbing boat is not the best time to do the grocery shopping. Eye-to-eye contact is, I'm told, a key to successful bartering but, like keeping my breakfast down, I'm finding it hard to maintain.

Alex Thomson reaches Les Sables d’Olonne

Alex Thomson goes round the world in 80 days

Sailor becomes the fastest Briton to finish the Vendée Globe, joining the elite at his fourth attempt

Bodyguard of Kony ‘killed’ as Ugandan forces close in on LRA leader

Ugandan forces have killed a former bodyguard of Joseph Kony, a sign they are closing in on the fugitive rebel leader wanted for war crimes.

Tahir ul-Qadri is planning to lead a huge march on Islamabad

Tahir ul-Qadri: The cleric who wants to disrupt Pakistani politics

A cleric has burst on to the political stage in Pakistan vowing to “get rid of electoral dictatorship” in a move that could scupper elections this spring.

Holy Other

The best music of 2012: Electronica

“Dubstep” became an even dirtier word in 2012, because of its synonymity with that wobba-wobba-wob noise to which the US mainstream has so unexpectedly taken.

Armageddon flop: After all that fuss it really wasn't the end of the world

Events organised across the planet for people to either gather for the oncoming Armageddon or to celebrate together the continuance of the human race

This week's wackiest web stories: Bringing sexy back (legally)

Plus: Sat nav Santa, the geek apocalypse and an alternative Christmas card list

Denis Matsuev, Kavakos, LSO, Valery Gergiev, Barbican, London

Unveiling plans for his new Mariinsky theatre, vociferously backing Putin over Pussy Riot, and popping up as an improbable Father Christmas on Radio 3, Valery Gergiev has been hard to ignore this week. But his current exploration with the London Symphony Orchestra continues.

Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver voted best placed to save the world from Mayan Prophecy

Brits picked the two actors as most capable of saving humanity in an online poll

Wayne Rooney struggled in the defeat by Cluj

Kevin Garside: Alex Ferguson desperately needs to roll out Wayne Rooney of old – if he still exists

He did not want for effort, but the Manchester United striker is utterly disconnected from his mojo

Is the end of the world really nigh? Authorities reassure Russians over Mayan Armageddon prophecy amid reports of 'unusual behaviour'

Some parts of Russia, which is often said to have a penchant for mystical thinking, appear to have been spooked by the Mayan predictions

Gator aid: 'If attacked, hit the animal'

Simon Calder: Foreign lesions, and how to avoid them

The man who pays his way

Ravichandran Ashwin’s bowling will test England’s batsmen

The Last Word: Let virtues of the long game flourish in Indian summer

T20 desecrates the game’s essence, absolving batsmen of all responsibility

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Independent Travel
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona from £629pp
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Prices correct as of 12 December 2014
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas